Is there mold on my bed?
September 25, 2010 10:48 AM   Subscribe

What is happening to my wooden bed frame? Is it mold? Photo inside.

Asking for a friend:

I’m hoping MeFites will be able to weigh in and give me clues as to what is happening to my wooden bed frame. It’s an IKEA frame, and I’ve had it for a little over a year, and I noticed maybe one month ago that the edges of the wood are darkening. Photo of bed

Does wood normally darken like this, and if so, why is the frame only darkening on the edges and what I assume is the middle support beam?

Possibly relevant – I live in Taiwan, it is very humid, and my room is drafty and damp. In the past, we’ve had mold problems. Is it possible that, due to the high humidity, the bed is molding or rotting from the inside? I have not noticed any smell or experienced any breathing problems or headaches, so I hesitate to say that it’s mold. Is there a test I can do to check if it is mold?

We have also tried thoroughly wiping down the entire thing with a saturated borax solution and letting it dry. It fixed the ceiling but it hasn't changed the color of the bed.

Thank you all!
posted by just.good.enough to Home & Garden (3 answers total)
The humid air is getting into the veneer where the thin edge of the veneer is expose at the corners and sides. It's water that is discoloring the wood. I've seen something similar on a tabletop. No mold, no worries.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:08 AM on September 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

There are some fungi that get into wood and cause discolorations - the word for this is "Spalt." Spalting doesn't look like this, though, and isn't considered particularly harmful (unless you're using power tools on it and kicking up dust). I don't think you have a lot to worry about health wise from this.

If this was from moisture I'd expect to see long horizontal stripes where the pieces of veneer met up, and not that vertical band. It could be that the people who sold IKEA their lumber didn't dry it properly though and the water was coming from that.

There are a number of other things that will darken wood, though.

You can fume oak with ammonia to make it darker. So it might be something outgassing a trace amounts of ammonia from the internal support or the glue that was used to attach the two together.

Some woods contain tannin which reacts with iron and turns almost black. Normally this is considered a problem but there are finishing techniques that use this phenomenon. It seem unlikely here, but who knows.

If the veneer is cherry (or a couple other species), it could be that it is is photoreactive. If you keep a pair of big pillows up against the headboard, they might be shielding it from light and keeping the middle light while the edges and the gap in between darkens.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:42 PM on September 25, 2010

This is a semi-wild guess, but I'm thinking it's a manufacturing defect related to the glue used to assemble the headboard. As thick as it is, that headboard is probably hollow -- it's rather light, right? If so, it'll have been built like a hollow core door. It looks like the discoloration is all around the outside edge, and also follows a vertical line right up the middle. These are places where the surface skins would be glued to the frame.
posted by jon1270 at 4:23 PM on September 25, 2010

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